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Teaching at University (for dummies)
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kev20



Joined: 31 Jul 2013
Posts: 111

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:35 am    Post subject: Teaching at University (for dummies) Reply with quote

Until now I have been teaching in public schools (primary and middle schools) in Korea and China. I've taken a university job in Jiangsu and I'm interested in any information university teachers can give me in terms of what to expect and what pitfalls need to be avoided.

I will be teaching an oral english for business course and they've basically told me I can plan the course independently without the need for any approval from them.

I was thinking about doing a more practical course where the students can feel like they're getting involved in a business, and they can learn the terminology (with some instruction) as they go along. I'm not really a big fan of doing role-play for the sake of it, but I do intend to have presentations where they'll be pitching a business idea like 'Dragons' Den'.

Is this an idea that might work? What do you guys think? How do you usually assess students in your university classes?
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geosmiley



Joined: 25 Jan 2016
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:05 am    Post subject: Some Things To Consider Reply with quote

Opinions and advice will vary because because we all teach at different universities of varying status in different provinces .

The best advice I can give is to talk to the instructors you will be working with.

Don't take it all too seriously.
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teenoso



Joined: 18 Sep 2013
Posts: 297
Location: south china

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's hard to plan anything , in my view, because you don't have the context - what's their English level, how many students are in each class, how often do you see each class, what 's the classroom like in terms of movable furniture etc., are you teaching freshman or seniors etc etc.

The Uni might want to see a schedule for the semester , at the start of term, but I would keep it flexible and very general - customer service two weeks, telephone English one week, meeting role play one week ....
Leave some space for things the students are interested in, things they know know about, (their life , part-time jobs, companies and entrepreneurs in China) and things in the news.

Don;t get too serious too quickly , before you have got to know the students, and as another commentor has said, relax. Many freshmen Uni students are reeling from the rigours of the high school graduation year and need time to get used to Uni life, and they expect a little slack and fun from the foreign teacher.

I'm fairly sure , on the question of assessment , that the Uni will want to see it in a standard form, that matches the other teachers' assessment method - 70% final exam , 30% coursework or whatever. Unis are not totally hands-off their foreign teachers.

Good luck . I remember being very daunted in my first class in China, just because of so many unknowns , but at least you have school experience here.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11249
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teaching business English/communication is considered an English for Specific Purposes (ESP) domain.

I've created course content and taught both business communication and English for Legal Purposes at the tertiary level in other countries and have some guidelines for your class. Unless you have a background in curriculum development, stick with what's readily available online. Also, even though you don't care for role plays, it's about what the learners need/require to be successful.

For starters, Google English for business for the many websites dedicated to BE. The better lessons will teach the use of English within a business concept. For example, students learn what marketing is while using English. Lessons should build upon each other. In other words, start with basic communication skills used in business contexts (e.g., telephone etiquette, customer service skills, interviewing skills, resolving a business-related ethical dilemma, etc.) before expecting students to pitch a product and negotiate a deal.

Also re: your Dragon's Den idea, in my BE courses, students, in groups, brainstormed and developed their group's idea and components for their capstone project starting the third week of class. On the last day of the session, the groups presented their capstone project in front of their classmates and a panel of evaluators made up of faculty members and the program academic coordinator. The presenters were also required to answer audience questions.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 4694
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd check whether the school is nationally ranked or provincial.
Provincials don't expect as much, not that nationally-ranked are great.
BTW my experience is 70 percent CLASS, 30 percent final.
This tends to keep pressure on students (and teacher) throughout the semester.
For oral the trick is to assign meaningful marks to a fleeting scrap of dialogue.


Last edited by Non Sequitur on Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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geosmiley



Joined: 25 Jan 2016
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:17 am    Post subject: Seconded Reply with quote

I would like to second the advice from a previous poster that you have no context to plan anything. That is why I answered the way I did. If you could provide a few variables , class size, year, university status, student major, etc. it would be easier to help. However, it's not difficult to figure it all out after you have started so just relax; you do have some experience. Feel free to PM me if you would like some opinions of what works for me where I am.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 4694
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's excellent advice. Getting people who have used their English skills to further their careers would be very motivational.
Former student Skyped me the other day and said not a day goes by that she doesn't thank her enthusiasm for English from an early age.
It was a great FT at middle school that motivated her.
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Mr. Kalgukshi
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Joined: 18 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To the extent individual postings exceed 300 words they will be removed from the public board. Two lengthy postings have just been removed.

Members that repeatedly violate this board policy will be sanctioned. Sanctions can and do include a permanent ban along with ISPs.

This thread is now unlocked with the understanding this very final warning remains in effect.
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kev20



Joined: 31 Jul 2013
Posts: 111

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your replies. To add further information the university is ranked between 200 - 300 in China. The classes should usually have around 30 students. I don't think they will be English majors.

Some of you have suggested the assessment should be based on a final exam and class projects and such. In the case of an oral English class, what would you normally do for the final exam? Is this a speaking/listening test? Or a written test?
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teenoso



Joined: 18 Sep 2013
Posts: 297
Location: south china

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely should be an oral exam !
I would find a way to avoid allowing the students to produce memorised answers, eg students choose to answer on three topics from a list you give them, then you choose in the exam which one topic, and ask unseen questions.

With 30 students you can do this in two classes (90 mins). With bigger classes you could do pair work.

At my last place, several FTs taught the same course to different classes, and we were forced to pair up the teachers for the exams - the result was an excruciating two weeks solid of nothing but oral exams with hundreds of students... if you are the sole teacher on the course you have much more freedom.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 4694
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kev
I'll pm you on how I organise my oral assessments.
NS
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In the heat of the moment



Joined: 22 May 2015
Posts: 349
Location: SAUDI ARABIA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although there are many unknowns you can plan the first couple of weeks. Ice breakers, getting to know you, needs analysis, introductions, to start with. I'm sure many students will have an idea of what they want to get out of your class, so ask them and see if you can put together some lessons which address their wants and needs.

I expect a lot of students won't have the ability to give a Dragons' Den pitch or talk about ethical dilemmas in business immediately, and anyway I worked in the corporate sphere for a decade and never spoke about either of those. The talking in the office was around the water cooler or in a meeting, using plain English mostly. The specific, technical English we used was from our industry (banking), and I doubt someone working in marketing is going to know/talk about collateralised debt obligations! Just start off simple, get them telling you what the course should look like to benefit them the most.

And, yeah, an oral exam at the end would be most suitable. You can give them a rough idea of the topics they're going to talk about, otherwise you'll have otherwise good students becoming tongue tied or completely freezing up.
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eihpos



Joined: 14 Dec 2008
Posts: 302

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve done small group presentations as there’s 30 - 40 in a class. In the first semester I did one to one interviews or pair interviews which took ages, but presentations made things easier and quicker for me and worked quite well. For the writing classes final, I give them an essay to do in class using one of the essay types/structures we’ve looked at. I know some teachers do portfolios but I really don’t want the hassle!
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 4694
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'With 30 students you can do this in two classes (90 mins). With bigger classes you could do pair work'.
You should ALWAYS do pair (or trio) work. The TTT or Teacher Talk Time should be minimal.
Select 3 topcs: One aimed at boys. One for girls and one that lends itself to comical presentations.
The students select who they will work with and prepare accordingly. All I look for is fluency and a balance that each student carries an equal part of the scenario.
I do this for semester work and again for finals. Minimal notes allowed for mid-term but none for finals.
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nimadecaomei



Joined: 22 Sep 2016
Posts: 407

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Non Sequitur wrote:
'With 30 students you can do this in two classes (90 mins). With bigger classes you could do pair work'.
You should ALWAYS do pair (or trio) work. The TTT or Teacher Talk Time should be minimal.
Select 3 topcs: One aimed at boys. One for girls and one that lends itself to comical presentations.
The students select who they will work with and prepare accordingly. All I look for is fluency and a balance that each student carries an equal part of the scenario.
I do this for semester work and again for finals. Minimal notes allowed for mid-term but none for finals.


Only pointed at selection of a topic:
Just did a discussion on gender equality with grade 11 students. They are against this type of system. They want random topics and random groups. Show them a video of what the outside is on about, then get them to come up with their own thoughts. Never let your own ideas get too involved.
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